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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

UK Continues To Clear The Path For Growth Of Alternative Finance

Draft legislation has now been published to allow bad debt relief for investors in peer to peer loans, in addition to the new Personal Savings Allowance announced in the Summer Budget.

These measures are among those that address the key regulatory problems and perverse incentives that have been preventing the flow of finance to people and businesses who need it and improved returns to savers and investors. The first regulatory initiative was to regulate P2P lending, announced in 2013; while the first step in addressing incentives was to include P2P loans in ISAs - first announced in 2014.

In introducing the latest incentive measures the government says it remains "determined to increase competition in the financial sector, where new firms such as P2P platforms can thrive alongside the established players and compete to offer new and improved services to customers. This new relief will create a level playing field for the taxation of income from P2P lending when compared to the taxation of traditional forms of retail investment available from those established players."

The government's commitment is critical, given that the financial system is now less diverse than before the financial crisis blew up in 2008. Few bank reforms have actually taken effect - and some are being watered down. Recent fines and scandals also reveal little change in mainstream financial services culture from that described in the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and most recently in the damning report into the failure of HBOS.

From 6 April 2016, individuals investing in certain P2P loans will be able to set-off the losses they incur from loans in default against income they receive from other P2P loans, when calculating their savings income for tax purposes. 

In addition, under the Personal Savings Allowance announced in the Summer Budget 2015, the first £1,000 of savings income will be exempt from tax for basic rate taxpayers and the first £500 for higher rate taxpayers. An individual’s PSA will apply to interest they receive from P2P lending after any relief for bad debts.